We have a few related questions in terms of potential employers and cover letters -- but how about when talking with your colleagues? Sometimes, emoticons really help convey a message (in my opinion) that words can sometimes struggle to convey.

This probably depends on company culture but is there a "do" and "don't"s on the matter? Do people look down on those who use emoticons?

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    Voting to close because the answer is a matter of opnion, and varies from workplace to workplace and even from department to department within that workplace. – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 24 '14 at 0:28
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    This depends a lot on the company culture, and also on the context of the specific message. There's a big difference between a quick note to another team member and a formal letter to the CEO. Can you refine the question? – Monica Cellio Nov 24 '14 at 1:28

Emoticons (or emoji) are considered colloquial and so are not suitable for general business communication, including as E-mails to customers, senior management or other employees you do not know personally.

Emoticons may be suitable for your own team or other employees you have a close relationship with. It comes down to company culture. Many software companies, for example, are quite informal and accept them. Old, traditional law firms may view them as trite and unprofessional.

Emoticons are more suitable in less formal communication such as messaging or chat apps (although be aware these still are considered legal correspondence and so all the legal rules with E-mail still apply) compared to more formal E-mails. Younger employees are also more inclined to accept and use them.

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    Note that the same applies to other emotion/stage-direction markup such as "<sigh/>", or "/me wanders off, whistling casually" or whatever. If you'd be comfortable responding to something this person said with "ROFL", you could consider the corresponding emoticon. If one would be insufficiently dignified/formal, the other is too. – keshlam Nov 24 '14 at 0:41
  • Well said. Use them within your team or close circle of co-workers if you know that your team has the culture that will be fine with it (and only you can judge that, not us). Don't use with people outside that circle. – Carson63000 Nov 24 '14 at 3:25
  • Keep in mind also that any electronic communication can be forwarded to anyone, so I always assume that the president of the company might be reading whatever I send. :) – mcknz Nov 24 '14 at 17:37
  • I'd say it may matter on your job as well. A customer service person may want to close the gap and provide a bit more human-like responses. A small "=)" can provide something to a person asking for help or something of that nature. – Xrylite Nov 24 '14 at 17:53

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